Firms build teams because they work. Once people get to know each other better, they can divide work more efficiently and even build motivation through a sense of teamwork.
New research from Gerhard Riener and Simon Wiederhold of the Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität in Dusseldorf tests that effect, and found it to be true at a very basic level. In a task with a designated leader and follower, people who had previous experience working with the leader significantly outperformed those who had none.
That familiarity can have a drawback, which has important implications for leaders and companies. People who already worked with a leader expected less control from their leaders, and when they were more controlling than expected, they felt betrayed and retaliated by exerting less effort.
This graph illustrates the effect. Effort and cooperation drops much more for the CE group (experience with the leader) than the NCE group (no experience):
Part of what makes a group work is trust, which is one of the things that produced the initial productivity increase the study found.
If leaders are open about any changes in group structure or responsibilities, and take the time to register concerns, they can avoid this drop off in performance.
Read the full study here
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